Sunday Blessings 190

(1)  A great visit with NJ

(2) A visit from NM

(3) Compliments on my LLR at the high school play.

(4) Beautiful Girl retreat fun at UMM

(5) Hanging with Miss ND and having her give me a makeover. So fun!

(6) The Music Man at Williston High

(7) A sweet hug from CTs daughter

(8) Catching up with a college friend. Thanks for the great conversation BP.

(9) Texting with my faves

(10) A picture from one of my church youth.

(11) Visiting with one of my youth during coffee hour.

(12) Pineapple

No More Excuses

I am linking up for the Five Minute Friday. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung over at our Five Minute Friday website. Today’s word prompt is “excuse.” We would love to have you join us. 

A Jewish infant whose cries came into the world after a deep holy breath as the world sighed. Moments before, his parents came to the inn. But there was no room for them there. It wasn’t an excuse but was the reality of the moment. So this child is born in a manger in Bethlehem.

This child who cries, poops, and laughs in all of his humanity. As a child, there are no excuses from him either. He continues to be the Messiah; the one sent to share the message of the Gospel.

Jesus hangs on a cross crying out, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing.” A crown of thorns upon his head. The blood dripping from the nails in his hands and feet. He breathes his last.

Jesus wasn’t afraid to stand up for what was right. He never made excuses for being the world changer. *Perhaps we can learn from his example. I know that we aren’t always going to agree, but God calls us “to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God.”

#TakeAKnee isn’t about love of country. It is about freedom of expression. This football player is not ungrateful. He is simply asking us to do and be better. And I know this opinion is not in the norm but I’m no longer making excuses. Im speaking up and out. I’m covenanting to truly listen to why others believe what they believe.

And #TakeAKnee is just a starting place.

No more excuses!

*Where my five minutes ended. This final spot is something I’ve been wanting and needing to say. I’m open to listening to all sides. I just think we must not judge less we be judged. So tonight I stepped outside my comfort zone with these words. Be gentle friends!

A Different Call to Ministry

“You’re just a pastor wanna be.” The first time I heard those words, my blood began to boil. My call to ministry; to word and service ministry is so much more than that. It is not a yearning to be a pastor, but is in fact a different call to ministry. It is a call to “word and service,” rather than “word and sacrament.” It is a call to be the bridge between the church and the world.

The night before Jesus’ death and crucifixion, Jesus sat around the table with his disciples. He broke bread and poured wine. He even communed Judas who would soon betray him and Peter who would deny him three times. In this holy act, we see the power of God’s redeeming love and grace. Not only did they take part in a holy meal, but Jesus took on the role of the servant and washed his disciples’ feet.

As a woman called to word and service ministry, to be a deacon in this church, it is the foot washing that reminds me that God calls me to pick up my basin and towel to wash the feet of all God’s people. As the daughter of a woman who lives daily with a mental illness, God calls me to wash my mom’s feet, but also the feet of all God’s beloved especially the down-trodden, the marginalized, etc.

Like the waters of Baptism, the water poured out on Maundy Thursday calls deacons to share God’s love with the world. This water also reminds us that in Holy Baptism we all have been gifted with different gifts and abilities. It is a reminder that there are many members but one body.

Since the first time I have read about “word and service” ministry, it has spoken to me; to my call to ministry. I do not feel called to administer the sacraments but rather to be the bridge between the church and the world. I feel called to work alongside the pastor and share the message of the Gospel in new and innovative ways.

Deacons serve in various ways in this church. You will see them serving in congregations like I do. You will see others focusing on community organizing, disability ministry, and in so many other ways. As deacons, who are called to share the word, you will also sometimes see us preaching to the gathered community. As a colleague reminded me many years ago, my sermon has a different focus than his. I see it through the eyes, ears, and lens of word and service ministry.

There is a beautiful depth and gift that comes when congregations realize that there are new ways for churches to think about calling rostered leaders. With the clergy shortage, perhaps more congregations can and will be open to calling a deacon; an individual with seminary training who is called to this specific ministry of word and service.

For me, the call to “diakonia” (service) has always been captured in these elegant words from Frederick Buechner. “The place God calls you to be is the place where the world’s deep hunger and your deep gladness meet.” Deacons are called to be that place between the world’s deep hunger and our deep gladness.

I am in no way a pastor wanna be. I am a woman called to be the bridge between the church and the world. I am a woman called to carry God’s love to all the world. I am a woman who is called “to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with her God.”

And my deacon friends and colleagues are called to do the very same. We simply have a different call to ministry; a different call that, I truly believe, can and will change the church as we work together with our Word and Sacrament colleagues.

May our hearts, ears, and eyes be open to the calling of the Holy Spirit as the church learns more about what it means to be called as a minister of Word and Service in the church.

I am linking up with Kelly Balarie and the Ra Ra linkup, Jennifer and Tell His Story, Holley, Coffee for your Heart and Kristin and Porch Stories.

  

Sunday Blessings 189 (Over a Month’s Worth)

I got a little behind after completing the Write 31 Days challenge so this is my attempt at catching up.Unfortunately in the midst of October, I switched phones and didn’t think to save the Sunday Blessings already saved on my phone so I had to go through pictures etc to try and remember what October held. So this is my best attempt from then until now to share a month or more of Sunday Blessings. I will be back to a regular routine of posting these on Sundays this week.

(1) A fun weekend with my sissy

(2) Coffee with one of my Confirmation moms

(3) Rend Collective concert

(4) Community concert with a parishioner

(5) New LLR

(6) Texting with my faves

(7) Write 31 Days

(8) Time with CT and her girls

(9) WND LYO Gathering

(10) Going to church and getting at least 3 hugs from a little girl. So sweet!

(11) Momentos of a special day shared with me.

(12) A colleague telling me I do an awesome job with my children’s sermons.

(13) Turkey Bingo fun

(14) Texting with my faves

(15) Talking with JK on the phone. Love you friend!!

(16) A text from KG

In the Stillness of the Night

I am linking up for the Five Minute Friday. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung over at our Five Minute Friday website. Today’s word prompt is “silence.” We would love to have you join us.

In the silence of the night
Holy cries pierced the dark
Emmanuel is born!

In the silence of the night
Cries from the cross
Pierce the dark
As his last breath
Is taken.

In the silence of the night
Homeless seek out shelter
Looking for refuge on a cold night
Knowing Christ will walk with them.

In the silence of the night
Stars scattered in the sky
Holy silence
Reminding us
of God’s incredible love
For the world.

In the silence of the night
As a last breath is breathed
and a first breath taken
Precious reminders of life’s journey
Of both life and death.

In the silence of the night
A holy cry pierced the stillness
Proclaiming the arrival
Of this holy child
Who later pierces the dark
With his final breath
On Mount Calvary.

In the stillness of the night….

A Beloved Teacher

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.”—Hebrews 12:1-2

She was my English teacher, my drama director, my classmate’s mother, but most of all, she was someone I was honored to call not only my teacher but a friend. Yesterday morning, Mrs. L lost her battle with cancer leaving a void for all who know and love her.

I am the wordsmith and writer I am because of this dear teacher. She saw promise in me before I even saw it in myself. I remember one year in particular when she was prepping for the one act play competition. One of the actresses had to drop out and Mrs. L came to me and asked me to be in the production. I didn’t quite know it then, but I definitely know it now. That moment in time is where I was bitten by the acting bug.

My love for reading also was honed by this amazing teacher. I can’t pick up a book without thinking through its plot line, its audience, and its message. These were all characteristics that I learned from an amazing teacher. In addition, who I am as a writer, comes from all that she taught me about language and words.

But Mrs. L was so much more than a teacher to me. She was one of the many who showed me what it meant to be a woman of faith and to love unconditionally. She wouldn’t put up with bullying in the classroom and for that I am extremely thankful. She was a woman; a teacher; but most especially a mom to some amazing children and grandchildren who she also taught to be world changers.

I remember looking out at my consecration service and seeing Mrs. L sitting in her families usual Sunday pew. She had come to share in this special day with my family and I. I will never forget how many times she told me how proud she was of the woman of faith that I have grown into.

Mrs. L was a world changer in all essences of the word. She taught her students, her children, and her grandchildren to sit with those who were sitting alone, to encourage others, to be a friend to the lonely, and to look for the good. Today, as I reflect on Mrs. L’s memory, I am so incredibly thankful that she blessed my life. She taught me that sometimes life is hard, but that it is always worth it.

Today, as I reflect on the many lives she has touched, I vow to continue to be one of her beloved storytellers. Barb, thank you for being my amazing teacher, a faithful witness to the gospel, one of the best storytellers I know and a beloved mentor and friend. I wouldn’t be who I am without what you taught me. I am who I am because you weren’t afraid to show me; to love me (and all of your students) unconditionally. Thank you doesn’t even seem enough. But know that I am one of the many lives you touched.

I’ll be linking up with these lovely ladies–Kelly and the Ra Ra linkup, Jennifer and Tell His Story, Holley and Coffee for your Heart, and Kristin and Porch Stories.

 

 

What I Needed

I am linking up for the Five Minute Friday. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung over at our Five Minute Friday website. Today’s word prompt is “need.” We would love to have you join us.

After Write 31 Days, sometimes you just have to have a little fun. Last night, I enjoyed one of my all time favorite Christian bands Rend Collective. Their sound reminds me a lot of Mumford and Sons. I splurged and bought myself a VIP access pass which got me awesome seats, an autographed poster, a photo with the band and getting to listen to four new songs off their upcoming album to be released in January.

Bright lights, the awesome sounds of Rend filling the room. Lots of joy as we worshipped the Lord together. “We are your church. We need your power in us.” These words from Build My Kingdom echoing throughout the room. Before we knew it, the concert was over. But we still needed to hear one of our faves “My Lighthouse.” They couldn’t leave us hanging.

They came back and all the voices proudly sang out the words to this beloved song. After the four minutes of this song, Chris the lead singer from Rend stood, with only a guitar and we finished with an intimate worship. A holy experience I’ll not soon forget and just what this girl needed…some time just for herself.

 

Transformed by Jagged Grace

The painter’s brush strokes glide across the page to create a beautiful masterpiece. The quilter gathers scraps of fabric and pieces them together to make a gorgeous quilt. The film maker captures snapshots in a frame to build a video masterpiece. These are just some of the ways God uses individual’s gifts to make art; to make pieces into something whole.

Six months (and 4 days ago), I began a journey that was quite unexpected for me. It caused me to live in liminal space; between the what was and what was yet to come. I found myself standing in the midst of the fog searching to see where God might be leading me next. There were days I wondered if I would ever be able to find the light again.

Yet in the midst of this jagged grace, God showed up big time like God always does. As I stood 300 feet from the base of the mountain last June, a sense of holy peace fell upon me as the tears began to pour from my eyes. Standing there, as I laid the past behind me and began to reach for the future, a glimmer of hope opened the door to new possibilities. Ellie Holcomb’s words echo throughout the wide open spaces at the top of Estes Cone.

“We’ve buried dreams, laid them deep into the earth behind us. Said our goodbyes at the grave but everything reminds us. I know sweet ache when he asks us to go on. How do we go on?” (Ellie Holcomb-Red Sea Road lyrics)

We go on because in the midst of jagged grace, God blesses us beyond measure. God promises to never leave us or forsake us. God places incredible family and friends in our lives who wipe away our tears and give us a shoulder to cry on or simply a place to just be.

I remember sitting on the paddle boat on my friend EG’s farm. Together, in the stillness of the North Dakota prairie, I again found myself overcome with a deep peace that only comes from God; a deep peace that would sustain me in the coming days, months, and weeks.

In the midst of liminal space, or rather jagged grace, it can be so hard to find our way out of the darkness back into the light. Yet our God is a God who gives us the grace to be made whole again. Again in the words of one of my favorite songs “Beautiful Things” by Gungor, “God makes beautiful things out of dust; out of us.”

In the last six months, I have been dropped, molded, and shaped back into a beautifully broken but whole again child of God. This time of jagged grace has shaped me back into who and whose I am as a beloved child of God. But most especially, in this time of jagged grace, I have been made whole again. I am a living example of God’s kintsugi; the gold lacquer shining over my broken pieces and telling the story of God’s love for all people.

Six months later and after these 31 days, I now know the power of jagged grace. Jagged grace is indeed a grace that overcomes life’s obstacles. It is a grace that absolutely breaks forth and changes us. In fact, how can it not change us. This jagged grace is indeed a grace that sustains us all in our own brokenness and makes us whole again and again and again.

I stand here today, knowing that I am changed; transformed by jagged grace. I stand here knowing that, through jagged grace, I have been able to overcome many of the obstacles placed in my path. I stand here with the marks and scars of my own brokenness. And most of all, I stand here knowing that I am one of God’s masterpieces created to share God’s love with all the world especially in the midst of our times of jagged grace.

I am linking up with Kelly and the Ra Ra linkup, Jennifer and Tell His Story, Holley and Coffee for your Heart and Kristin and Porch Stories.


 


Click Here to Head to the Jagged Grace Landing Page

A Holy Eternal Light

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not overcome it.”

There are times that the darkness can be so overwhelming. Growing up, as a daughter of a woman who lives daily with a mental illness, there were times that my family and my mom especially could not see past the darkness. They were blinded and paralyzed by the darkness of life. And it is during these times that we yearn to see the light; to grasp for the candle.

Have you ever noticed during a power outage how a candle gives just enough light? The candle allows us to see in the midst of pure darkness. A simple candle burning its light to give just enough light in the house.

During my times of jagged grace, it is then that I have especially have yearned to find the candle to bring light. It is during these hard times that it seems that I cannot find my way out of the dark. I am clawing my way out of the dark back into the light.

Jesus is the light that comes in the midst of all of life’s darkness; in the midst of all of those times of jagged grace. Jesus is the light that shines forth for all the world to see. And Jesus calls us to shine forth our own lights; to shine for our friends and family and all who are yearning to find light in the midst of jagged grace.

This light is the holy eternal light that burns brightly and promises never to let the darkness overcome us. Thanks be to God!


Click Here to Head to the Jagged Grace Landing Page